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Crackdown Review

publisher: Microsoft
developer: Real Time Worlds
genre: Action Adventure

ESRB rating: M

release date: Feb 20, 07
» All About Crackdown on ActionTrip

February 27, 2007
Josh Gibbons

For those of you thinking of buying this Crackdown developer by Real Time Worlds for the Xbox 360 so you can secure a spot in the Halo 3 multiplayer beta, just go ahead and skip this review. You've already decided to make the purchase and clearly care nothing about the game that comes with the Beta invite. However I must admit I was worried when they added the Halo 3 multiplayer beta to this game. I was thinking to myself (As most people have -Ed), 'Does the game suck so bad that they have to attach the H3 beta to it to sell any copies'. Does the game not stand on it own merit? Read on and find out.

I must admit, beta aside, I was looking forward to this game. I liked the prospect of open ended game play and "leveling up" your character that was touted by the developers. I also like blowing %@&* up! That's because the game basically consists of you being a Super-cop. This aint no Robo-cop plodding along at 2 miles per hour, this Super-cop has some mad hops. Once you have leveled your guy up a bit, you can sprint fast enough to chase down cars, leap 40 feet (or so) into the air and pick up cars to hurl at your enemies. There are also explosives and driving abilities to level up. Using all these powers, your mission(s) is to take down three criminal kingpins scattered through-out the map.

Now, one of the best things about Crackdown is how open this game is. Right from the get-go, you can travel just about anywhere on the ground level and to most of the rooftops. There are no blocked bridges or invisible walls that prevent you from moving around. You can start the game and immediately drive/run to the other end of the island.

As for your main goal of killing off the criminal element, each of these kingpins has 6 sub-lieutenants, making a total of 21 bosses. But here is the really great thing about this game (and for some, the really bad thing). You don't have to kill any of the sub-bosses to "win" the game.

Here's how it all works. I mentioned you can go just about anywhere, right from the start. Well, it's true. You can ignore the 19 of the mini-me's of crime and you can go straight for one the three Big-Cheese's. Here's the catch (there's always a catch). The more of the subs you kill the easier it is to kill to the main. Usually the boss is surrounded by a large number of elite guards that will often tear you to pieces if you get anywhere near their employer. However, the more of the Kingpin's 6 stooges you take out, then the less guards you have to deal with when end up going in for the main kill.

The issue I have with the bosses is that they all pretty much end up being the same. The only difference is the locale of each. There are very few puzzles involved and for the most part you can usually skip past the majority of bad guys (with your "amazing" leaping skills) and head straight for the bosses. They all die pretty much the same way. So for that reason alone, it's a bit of a let down.

Outside of the bosses, there is a ton of extra content thrown in. There are 500 agility orbs and 300 "hidden" orbs for you to collect. Agility orbs level up your jumping/sprinting and hidden orbs bump up a random mix of all of your abilities. The agility orbs are found on the rooftops. The hidden orbs are all over the place and almost never in plain sight. If anyone out there manages to collect all these orbs, then I salute you (I also think you're a complete freak with no life that needs to leave your parent's basement, try dating the opposite sex in the flesh for the first time ever and get a life. No offense). It will take you a very long time. In my 15 hours of playtime I manage to collect about half the A orbs and only about 30 of the H orbs.

In addition to collecting glowing spheres, there are rooftop and car races to complete (You race cars on top of buildings? Wicked! -Ed). The rooftop races increase your jumping/agility skill (just like the A orbs) and the car races increase your driving skill (shocking, I know). The problem with all these extras is that they are completely detached from the main goal of the game. The only incentive to do them is to level up your abilities. While this is not a bad thing, you quickly find that collecting orbs is so much easer than doing rooftop races. And running over bad guys with your car will level you up way faster then doing the checkpoint races. So if you just like running/driving through checkpoints for the sheer challenge of it, then there will be a lot for you do. If not, it all feels kinda wasted.

Now I don't want to put to negative a spin on all this. I will tell you now why this game is worth playing. This game can be insanely addictive. I am an RPG nut and I love being able to play an action game that lets you increase your skills by using them. What is really cool/addictive about this game is how rewarding each skill increase is.

When you level up your Agility, can immediately can run faster and jump higher. Now you can get those rooftops you couldn't reach before and get to various places faster just a little bit faster. You level up your strength and now you can pick up that dumpster and use it to flatten somebody. Keep leveling it up and now your can pick up the car driving down the street and totally obliterate a large group of the bad guys.

And driving, well driving has one of the coolest rewards off all. I don't want to spoil any surprises so I will mention this only to give you incentive to level it up. You will notice that you have access to three agency vehicles at the beginning of the game. As you level up your driving skills, you will notice the vehicles will not only visually change but their performance will beef up. That's cool in and of itself but the real fun comes when hit the highest level. That's when you get added abilities to your vehicles. Each of the three gets a different one. I just won't spoil it for you by telling you what they are but I will say it's worth doing. (Cup holders? -Ed)

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8.6   Very Good

Leveling up abilities is addictive while it last. Open-ended game play is really open. Halo 3 beta. Co-op can be really fun. Blowing stuff up and hurling cars.

Not much extra content that "means" anything. Open-ended might be too open. Lack of progressive story-line might put some people off.


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